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Youth Pastor Charged With Child Sex Abuse; Church Says SBC Database Would Have Prevented Him From Getting Hired

Luke Cunningham
Screengrab via WFAA

A North Texas youth pastor has been arrested and charged with two counts of sexual assault of a child and one count of aggravated sexual assault. Luke Cunningham, 41, was arrested on June 19.

Even though Cunningham had been serving as student pastor at Lakeside Baptist Church in Granbury, Texas, the church said that the accusations against Cunningham came from someone at a church where he previously served. 

Lakeside Baptist Church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Cunningham was listed as Lakeside Baptist’s student pastor on its website as early as November 2021. 

In a statement obtained by KCBD, leaders of Lakeside Baptist said that they had “received information from outside our church that Mr. Cunningham had been accused of inappropriate conduct with a minor in another church.”

The leaders said that Cunningham was immediately suspended after the accusations were brought forward and an investigation was launched. They added that the investigation yielded enough evidence to terminate Cunningham’s employment “within days.”

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The church said that it immediately reported Cunningham to law enforcement. 

“We also spoke to leaders at other churches. We encouraged all those with direct information to contact law enforcement,” the leaders’ statement said. “We also instructed all staff to come forward and cooperate fully with law enforcement.”

In a separate statement, Turning Point Community Church in Lubbock, Texas, where Cunningham was employed as a student pastor from 2016 to 2020, confirmed that Lakeside Baptist Church Pastor Mark Forrest called to inform leadership of the accusations against Cunningham. 

“While Luke served on our staff, we received no complaints, no allegations, nor had any suspicion of wrongdoing,” Turning Point said. “All allegations that are surfacing have been brought to our attention after Luke’s employment, not during or before.”

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The church further said that it had not yet been informed by law enforcement regarding the details of the accusations against Cunningham.